lease write and give me your opinion on this question
(whether or not you'll lose your famous and valuable mind)."
Perhaps not the most tactful query ever sent to Albert
Einstein, but certainly not that unusual among the many
letters he received from children.
Following are excerpts from a new book, "Dear Professor
Einstein: Albert Einstein's Letters to and From Children,"
edited by Alice Calaprice (Prometheus Books). Facsimiles of
some of these letters, as well as others from "The Einstein
Scrapbook," by Ze'ev Rosenkranz (Johns Hopkins University
Press), can be seen at the "Einstein" exhibition that opened
yesterday at the American Museum of Natural History.
. . . I probably would have written ages ago, only I was
not aware that you were still alive. I am not interested in
history, and I thought that you had lived in the 18th c., or
somewhere around that time. I must have been mixing you up
with Sir Isaac Newton or someone. Anyway, I discovered during
Maths one day that the mistress (who we can always sidetrack)
was talking about the most brilliant scientists. She mentioned
that you were in America, and when I asked whether you were
buried there, and not in England, she said, Well, you were not
dead yet. I was so excited when I heard that, that I all but
got a Maths detention! . . .
My best friends are the Wilson twins. Every night after
Lights Out at school, Pat Wilson and I lean out of our cubicle
windows, which are next to each other, and discuss Astronomy,
which we both prefer to anything as far as work goes. Pat has
a telescope and we study those stars that we can see. For the
first part of the year we had Pleiades, and the constellation
of Orion, then Castor and Pollux, and what we thought to be
Mars and Saturn. Now they have all moved over, and we usually
have to creep past the prefect's room to other parts of the
building to carry on our observations. We have been caught a
few times now, though, so its rather difficult. . . .
10th July, 1946
. . . I have to apologize to you that I am still among the
living. There will be a remedy for this, however. . . .
I hope that yours and your friend's future astronomical
investigations will not be discovered anymore by the eyes and
ears of your school-government. This is the attitude taken by
most good citizens toward their government and I think rightly
Dear Mr. Einstein,
I am writing to you to settle an arguement another boy and
I had in school today. We are both in the eighth grade . . .
This friend of mine claims that every genius is bound to go
insane because all geniuses in the past have gone insane. I
could not make him believe that there ever had been a genius
in the past that hasn't gone insane. I said that you were a
genius and you hadn't gone insane. My friend said you would go
crazy in a year or less. I said you wouldn't . . . If at all
possible try not to go insane at all. Confidentaly, I think my
friend isn't quite all there.
Please write and give me your opinion on this question
(whether or not you'll lose your famous and valuable
May 6, 1949
Dear Dr. Einstein,
I want to know what is beyond the sky. My mother said you
could tell me.
March 25, 1950
. . . We are in sixth grade. In our class we are having an
argument. The class took sides. We six are on one side and 21
on the other side. Our teacher is also on the other side so
that makes 22. The argument is whether there would be living
things on earth if the sun burnt out or if human beings would
die. . . . We believe there would be living things on the
earth if the sun burnt out. Will you tell us what you think. .
We would like you to join our Six Little Scientists, only
now it would be Six Little Scientists and One Big Scientist. .
Love and lollipops,
Six Little Scientists
The minority is sometimes right but not in your case.
Without sunlight there is :
no wheat, no bread,
no grass, no cattle, no meat, no milk, and everything would
December 12, 1951
. . . My teacher and I were talking about Satan. Of course
you know that when he fell from heven, he fell for nine days,
and nine nights, at 32 feet a second and was increasing his
speed every second.
I was told there was a foluma [formula] to it. I know you
don't have time for such little things, but if possible please
send me the foluma.
Dear Dr. Einstein,
I am a pupil in the sixth grade at Westview School. We have
been talking about animals and plants in Science. There are a
few children in our room that do not understand why people are
classed as animals. I would appreciate it very much if you
would please answer this and explain to me why people are
classed as animals.
We should not ask "What is an animal" but "what sort of
thing do we call an animal?" Well, we call something an animal
which has certain characteristics: it takes nourishment, it
descends from parents similar to itself, it grows, it moves by
itself, it dies if its time has run out. That's why we call
the worms, the chicken, the dog, the monkey an animal. What
about us humans? Think about it in the above mentioned way and
then decide for yourselves whether it is a natural thing to
regard ourselves as animals.
With kind regards,